OTCs in Action Episode 42: Homeopathy win in California generates ripples in Baltimore

OTCinActionheaderOTCs were in Action on Friday in California, where a jury found that homeopathic giant Hyland’s (Standard Homeopathic) did not mislead thousands of consumers into believing that its products are effective for ailments including allergies, leg cramps, migraines and sleeplessness. The effect was immediately felt at the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore, as the news was texted back East to colleagues in the homeopathy and natural products fields.

In recent years, the level of new homeopathic OTC-branded products in the show has seemed to decline, possibly owing to unresolved legal and regulatory issues. This August, for example, the Federal Trade Commission recommended that the FDA revise its 1988 Compliance Policy Guide framework for regulating homeopathics to align with FTC requirements on advertising substantiation. It’s almost perfect timing that today, the FTC is hosting a workshop to evaluate the advertising of OTC homeopathic remedies.

Last Friday’s verdict was notable in that many smaller cases against homeopathy marketers are settled out of court. This major class action decision is perceived as a win for the industry. Specifically, the unsuccessful lawsuit alleged: “Hyland’s sells its homeopathic remedies without explaining to customers that at their practiced dilution levels, “very little, if any” of the advertised active ingredients are present,” reported Law360 on Friday.

During his closing arguments, Hyland’s attorney, Jeffrey Margulies, told jurors that the plaintiffs had a high burden of proof because in order to find that the representations on the product and packaging were false, jurors would have to be convinced that “the products do not perform as promised, because they cannot perform as promised.” Margulies pointed to Hyland’s surveys that show their products have an across-the-board 94% customer satisfaction rating.